Natural Mosquito Repellent

Start Using Natural Bug Repellent Free of DEET

Mosquitoes aren’t usually a man’s best friend but they are an important part of the food chain and we must learn how to live with them. While fears of the West Nile Virus and other vector-borne diseases may have you reaching for the DEET-based insect repellents at your local drugstore, there are methods for fending off these pests without putting your health at risk. In this article you will learn about the common chemicals in insect repellents and how you can start using natural mosquito repellent. 


Common chemicals in bug repellent

When looking for a bug spray, you should balance your concern over insect-carried illnesses with serious interest in reducing the toxicity of any product you apply to your skin, which eventually ends up in your body. Try to avoid the following bug spray chemicals:

  • DEET: Known by many names, including Autan, Detamide, Delphene, Naugatuck Det, Off, and Flypel, this chemical is widely heralded as the most effective bug deterrent, but it comes at a cost. Scientists know DEET as a pesticide that has been linked to many health problems, including rashes and swelling, acute toxicity, as well as reproductive, mutagenic, and organic toxicity. DEET also has many environmental setbacks—it harms aquatic life and is a neurotoxin for cats and dogs.[1] Ecolife recommends that you look for other alternatives.
  • Dimethyl phthalate (DMP): Like all phthalates, this one should be avoided. It is said to be a known human immune system and respiratory toxicant and may have a negative impact on liver, kidney, and blood in humans.[2]


How to prevent mosquitos and bugs

Instead of using a product on your skin, there are many manual ways to deter bug bites naturally. For instance, you could try any combination of the following bug-busting habits:

  • Standing water: Remove standing water from your yard to prevent mosquitoes from breeding near your home. This includes pet water bowls, eaves troughs, and stagnant water features.
  • Proper clothing: Dress yourself in clothing that covers most of the skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat.
  • Mosquito traps: There are many mosquito traps on the market today that attract and kill the bugs before they can get to you. However to be truly eco-friendly, these should operate without the use of electricity or fuel, so keep that in mind as you shop. Pheromone mosquito traps are a perfect example and can be bought at your local home improvement store or online at EarthEasy and OakStump.


Mosquito repellent plants

  • Marigolds: These plants naturally repel mosquitoes by giving off a smell that bugs don’t like, so plant some around your yard.
  • Citronella: Growing citronella in your yard is not only effective at deterring mosquitoes but it is also a lovely grass that can grow up to 6 feet. Burning a candle or incense stick with this herb gives off a pleasant scent too.
  • Sage and rosemary: Burn some of these herbs in your fire pit or add them to your BBQ to fend off mosquitoes.
  • Catnip:Is from the same family as mint, grows very easily and is extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. You can even crush the leaves and rub them on as a natural mosquito lotion. Note that this plant also deters cats.


Try these essential oils: 

  • Eucalyptus: This is great insect repellent, though it must be at a concentration of 70% cineole for the best results. Brands include: Carrot Tree Soaps, Skeeter Skatter, Kiss My Face.
  • Lemongrass and cedar: These two are sweet-smelling and effective bug deterrents. Try out Soothing Herbals and Buddha Nose.
  • Neem oil: Extracted from the leaves and seeds of a tree grown in India, this vegetable oil contains a compound called sallanin, which helps to keep mosquitoes away very effectively. Check out Ark Naturals.
  • Soybean oil: Here’s another natural ingredient you can use to make your own bug sprays. Look for Bienella, JASON.


Homemade mosquito repellent recipes

There’s a plethora of recipes for making homemade insect repellents with any number of the above ingredients. If you’re a DIYer at heart, try out these great options:

As always, when looking for any personal care products and ingredients to make your own, be sure to keep the health of animals in mind by purchasing products made without animal products, byproducts, and free of animal testing. Spy the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo to be sure that you’ve got a cruelty-free product or homemade insect repellent ingredient.



1 Pesticide Information Profile - DEET. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, and University of California at Davis:

2 Dimethyl phthalate. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2010, from Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database:

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